Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a fandom freebie.
What does it mean to be “in” a fandom?
Robin and I had a great conversation about this, and we (mostly she) came up with this: It’s not enough to just like or even love the original material. You have to interact with the material in ways that go beyond simply consuming it. For instance, you might
- produce, or actively seek out and share, fan art or fan fiction
- attend conventions
- discuss the material with other fans in person or online in meaningful ways
- wear and/or make apparel or accessories related to the material (T-shirts, buttons, hoodies, scarves, hats, etc.)
- cosplay based on the material
- go out of your way to meet or interact with the author(s) and/or stars
- produce scholarly work about or around the material
For all of the fandoms below, I fit or used to fit at least one of those criteria. I talk about the fandom material with other fans IRL or online; I have T-shirts and buttons for many of my fandoms; I seek out and share fan art, sometimes fanfic, and Tumblr posts related to them; I used to go to conventions, sometimes in costume; I’ll always try to meet the author (and have met several, and gotten books signed. And I’m even starting to dabble in writing fanfic…
Fandoms I discovered in my youth
…before there was even a word for fandom.
Fantasy generally. Narnia started it; Prydain sealed the deal. I was a diehard fantasy fan by the time I was 8 or 9, despite a certain death of reading material. (Bear in mind, there weren’t all that many fantasy books for children in the early 1970s!) In high school and college, I began attending SF/F conventions, particularly Balticon. Nowadays, fantasy is too general to be considered a single fandom, but in those days, it definitely was. As sort of sub-fandoms, I was totally enamored of unicorns and dragons for quite a while, and still have some of each around — artwork, statuettes, and stuffed animals, mainly. And a dragon cookie jar.
Tolkien/LOTR. The first adult fantasy I ever read. I fell in love with these books at age 10 or thereabouts, and never stopped. For 12 or 15 years, I reread the entire trilogy at least twice a year. Now it’s more like once every 3 to 4 years, but I still love them. And I love the movies, too, despite the occasional departure from the books. (“By rights we shouldn’t even be here.” No kidding, Sam.) When I went off to college, I even put up a 5-ft-plus-long poster of the rather psychedelic Ballantine Tolkien covers — this one:
Star Trek. TOS, ST:NG, ST:DS9, the books, the movies… I’ve been a Trekkie (or Trekker, depending on your preference) for over 40 years, ever since middle school. But I may be the only ST fan who discovered the series not through the TV shows, but through novelizations thereof — specifically, a series of books that retold the stories of the short-lived animated series. It was only after that that I was occasionally able to find reruns of the original series on TV. I even spent 2 weeks in front of a mirror, teaching myself to raise one eyebrow a la Spock. In my 20s, my then-future husband and I bonded over DS9; our first sign of commitment was buying a VCR together, so we could tape the episodes to watch together. (We both worked retail, so one of us was often working on the nights it aired.)
Star Wars. Well, the original trilogy, anyway. I was the perfect age for fandom when the first movie came out at the end of my 9th-grade year. And when The Empire Strikes Back came out a few years later, I saw 11 and a half times in theaters (not counting later viewings of the whole trilogy on video or DVD.) I loved Episode VII, too, and Rebels was good, though sad. But I’ll be honest: I have never warmed to the prequel trilogy.
King Arthur. I first read a child’s version of some of the King Arthur legends in middle school or even earlier. In high school, I discovered Mary Stewart’s Arthurian trilogy and began a long-term love affair with the Arthurian legends. I was particularly interested in the historical Arthur, or rather in the search for him, since there is almost nothing that can be considered contemporary. High medieval knights in shining armor are all very well, but the historical Arthur, if he exists, would have lived and fought in the 6th century. I read everything on the history I could get my hands on, as well as Welsh myths like the tales of the Mabinogion. During college, I wrote a paper on Vortigern and the Saxons (Vortigern being a predecessor of Arthur), and as a graduate, researched and designed a King Arthur tour for my mother’s tour business… so I and other Arthurian fans could visit some of the places associated with him, from Tintagel (traditionally his birthplace) to a worn stone pillar that still faintly bears the name Drustanus (Tristan).
Fandoms I discovered as an adult (college or later):
Harry Potter. I read the first book before Robin did. But I wasn’t in a good place emotionally when I read it (I’d recently developed high anxiety and panic attacks, hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and couldn’t concentrate on much of anything), so I didn’t realize just how good it was. It wasn’t until Robin fell in love with the stories that I started reading them again, and soon loved them nearly as much as she did. This and LOTR are probably my biggest fandoms on Tumblr.
Mercedes Lackey. Especially the Valdemar series. There wasn’t any fanfic or fan art widely available for a long time, because Lackey forbade it on the advice of her lawyer; about five years ago (?) she withdrew the prohibition. There was, however, a fan community that discussed the books in detail, and I was part of it for a time. And I’m working on a fic…
Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series. If I have met you and you like fantasy, then I have recommended these series to you — especially the Protector of the Small quartet. I’ve reblogged quite a bit of stuff on Tumblr, too. . . and gotten books signed and sought her out at the National Book Festival a few years ago.
Sherlock Holmes. In the larger sense, not just the Sherlock series but the original Doyle stories, Laurie R. King’s novels, the Jeremy Brett adaptations, etc. And, um, I wrote up an extensive theory between Sherlock Seasons 3 and 4 (the latter of which I haven’t seen yet due to stuff going on, so don’t spoil it for me, OK?)
Doctor Who. I’m kind of on the fringes of this fandom; I’ve dipped my toe in the pond, reblogging stuff on Tumblr and so on, but haven’t jumped in all the way yet. But I’m getting there.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton. OK, the man’s awesome and so is the musical. And the Moana music. And the commencement speech he gave a year ago…
Honorary Mention fandoms:
- Anne McCaffrey
- Temeraire (Naomi Novik)
- Percy Jackson
- Lunar Chronicles